RTE stars Ryan Tubridy and Evanne Ní Chuillinn among familiar faces at Leopardstown
There was cause for celebration for two Dublin members of a syndicate from the Supreme Horse Racing Club when Ruby Walsh rode Aramon to victory on the second day of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival yesterday.
There were jubilant scenes in the parade ring as the winning 12 members of the club danced with delight as Walsh made a triumphant return to the Dublin racecourse, after missing out on the action there on St Stephen's Day in favour of the Limerick Christmas Festival.
John Murray, from Killiney, and his partner Caroline Giles bought into the syndicate during the summer, and have been involved in the game for the last five years.
John said the couple were "over the moon" with Aramon's victory in the €100,000 Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle.
He said they had had an "incredible" time with the Willie Mullins-trained Aramon so far.
"We're absolutely over the moon," John told the Herald.
"We bought into him in August and we have been to all the races except Listowel. We have had an incredible journey with him so far. I've been involved in horses for five years and we have been in a few others but this is the one that came right."
Caroline said all eyes were now on bringing Aramon to race at Cheltenham.
"I think the Supreme Novices in Cheltenham is where he is going to go next," she said.
The JP McManus-owned Auvergnat rode to victory in the big event of the day, the €200,000 Paddy Power Steeplechase.
Winning jockey Donal McInerney told the Herald that his discipline during the festive season had paid off on the day, adding that the victory made up for disappointment at the Limerick festival the previous day.
"It was brilliant. He jumped out, I was a bit handier than I thought I wanted to be but the blinkers really set him alight and he never dropped it from the word go," McInerney said.
"He jumped and travelled everywhere and then when we switched outside, and going down to the last he took off again.
"He did it quite well in the end, so delighted with that.
"It makes up for yesterday. The last race yesterday I was going to win but I ran out at the last fence so that made up for that," the jockey added.
A spokesperson for Paddy Power said after the day's racing: "The bookies ended up having an absolute beano, with even money favourite Footpad getting beat, and 28/1 shot Auvergnat stealing the show in the big race of the day, the Paddy Power Chase, in the familiar green and gold colours of owner JP McManus.
"It's half-time, but with two more days still to go at Leopardstown, the bookies have stolen a lead on punters that they'll do well to claw back."
Some 16,439 punters descended on Leopardstown, eager to pick a winner on the race card.
Ensuring ease of access for them was the first thing on the mind of the south Dublin racecourse's chief executive, Pat Keogh.
He said he was satisfied that entry to the races was much smoother compared with the first day of the meeting.
Some St Stephen's Day revellers were allowed in free after lengthy delays were caused by a shortage of cash turnstiles at the entrance for punters who hadn't purchased their tickets online.
"It has gone fine. People came in a more staggered approach," Mr Keogh said. "Yesterday a lot of people came at the same time, which is where a lot of our issues came from.
"It's a very big crowd today and everyone seems to have gotten in very smoothly."
A host of familiar faces took a trot to the Dublin racetrack for Paddy Power Chase Day yesterday, including Ryan Tubridy, Norah Casey, Marty Morrissey, Ivan Yates and politicians Martin Heydon, Pat Rabbitte, Emmet Stagg and Jack Wall.
GAA stars including Owen Mulligan, Diarmuid O'Sullivan, Tomas O Se and John Mullane also enjoyed the day.